University of Maryland Dental School researchers have indicated that sex hormones may be the biological reason why men are at greater risk than women for destructive periodontitis, an infection of the gums.
To establish better management and risk assessment models for periodontal disease, Harlan Shiau, assistant professor, and Mark Reynolds, professor at the Dental School, have published the first comprehensive review of gender differences in the development and progression of the destructive periodontal disease.
In a review paper the authors examine evidence for a biologic basis for a sexual dimorphism, or the differences in susceptibility, to periodontal disease between men and women. They conclude that sex steroids exert effects on multiple ways on the immune system regulation of inflammation. They also conclude that the root of the difference may be genetic.
"Differential gene regulation, particularly in sex steroid-responsive genes, could likely play a part in the observed sexual dimorphism of destructive periodontal disease," said Shiau.
Prior to the current review paper, the researchers conducted a systematic review of published population studies on the prevalence of periodontal disease. In their analysis they established that men, indeed, have a greater prevalence of periodontal disease than women globally.
The review paper has been published in the Journal of Periodontology.